Zap 4

Zap 4 is like the evil twin of Zap 2. Nah, I’m just kidding. It’s the other branch.

As I was waiting in line to buy my lunch at Zap 4, I keep hearing the same thing ordered from menu. Yes… yes, that’s right. Friggin’ Pad Thai!!! I’m gonna shoot myself if I hear someone say, spring rolls, wonton soup, pad thai and fried rice!! ARGGHHHH… just kidding!

Zap 4 is a good place for Thai to be honest. A bit dodgy at times for charging for rice though, which ticks me off a bit. They charge extra for rice, so if you think you’re ordering a curry, you do get a curry just without the rice!!! How the heck am I gonna eat my curry without rice.

Anyway, the usual. Here are pictures of what was sampled. Very similar to Zap 2.

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Roast Duck Curry.

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Pad Ped Fish.

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Green Curry.

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Larb Gai.

In summary, the roast duck curry and pad ped fish was $12 (premium dishes??), and the green curry and larb gai was $10. For the rice, it’s an extra $2. DODGY!!! But anyway, the curries are good – can’t complain. My favourite would have to be the pad ped fish. It’s lovely. Larb gai is an interesting dish, some people like it, some people don’t (like me). Zap 4 also sells the usual, pad thai, fried rice etc. One thing they do sell that’s somewhat familiar to me is the Guay Jab (not sure if I spell it right). It’s thick rice noodle in a pork soup/broth. It won’t suit some people because of the strong pork flavour. On top of that, there’s intestines, liver etc. A good try if you don’t mind those body parts. =)

Anyway, if Zap 4 weren’t so dodgy with the hidden cost (extra rice!!), I’d give them a very high rating. But they are reasonably priced. My rating for this occassion, 8/10. Not absolutely fantastic. Where’s my next 9/10??

Burger Fuel

This is a common sight all over Auckland these days. Burger Fuel!!! Compared to about 2 years ago, they were only available in certain places. Now they’re everywhere. It’s amazing how things change, their options used to be only $10-ish burgers and fries for about $3-ish. Now they have a variety, even burgers less than $10.

I quite enjoy a trip to Burger Fuel. I am a big fan of burgers and nothing can seriously beat them for good quality burgers. Oh… and the Kumara chips, a must try. Here’s one of the burgers sampled:

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Flame Thrower.

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Flame Thrower cut in half.

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Kumara Fries with Aioli Dip – Small.

In terms of pricing, the Flame Thrower was $10.30 and the chips $3.80. It’s quite reasonable and can easily feed two people. The Flame Thrower is a chicken burger, but they have options for beef and vegetarian. There’s really nothing much I can say.

A must try (once) if you pass by a “branch”. Don’t get too confused with the menu, just go with the flow or try a biggie like the Bastard. Sometimes they have promotions (i.e. a value combo).

My rating for Burger Fuel (in general), an 8.5/10. I can’t complain. All good!

Diamond Takeaway

I have been a bit neglectful recently. Work has been keeping me really busy.

Anyway, it’s a random post today (Isn’t it always random?). Diamond Takeaway is one of those local chinese takeout for the Greenlane/Remuera area. I’ve always enjoyed some of their dishes, and one great thing you can do at this place – you can watch them cook. By memory, I think they have up to 6 woks. So up to 6 cooks simultaneously frying the rice, noodles etc. 

It’s quite amazing how the arrangement is at Diamond takeaway. A group of cooks that churn out takeouts like an assembly line. They just look at the orders and start cooking with ingredients all ready and prepared at their disposal.

A couple of dishes were ordered during a night of hunger. The combination fried rice and steak Hor Fun.

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Combination Meat Fried Rice.

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Steak Hor Fun.

My impression, a reasonably clean place and clearly designed to just make money. I do pity the cooks, they look a bit bored and depressed, but what can you do if all night you’re cooking fried rice etc. I hope they’re getting above minimum wage! =)

In terms of taste and price, it’s not bad. $15 for the fried rice and $14 for the steak hor fun. Generally, all their dishes are around $15 for a very large portion (enough for 2). The dishes were delicious but during the cooking, you can see them add a teaspoon of white powder (MSG!!). Apparently, their chips won an award for least fat (can someone confirm this?).

My rating, 8/10. Good to try once in a while. At times, I do enjoy the odd fried rice. They do make ’em good!

Melaka Cafe

I ventured out to the Onehunga area to look for this elusive Melaka Cafe. There wasn’t any in Onehunga, so I decided to drive back home and passed by Royal Oak.

And guess what I happen to pass by – Melaka Cafe. It’s located very near to the Royal Oak Shopping Mall. I don’t know how to describe this mall, but it reminds me so much of the quiet, old-fashioned malls in Christchurch. I wasn’t quite sure if this was a great place to eat, so I roam around the area looking at other stuff. Apparently, there ‘s an authentic looking Chinese restaurant, called the Great Tong (I think).

Anyway, after aimlessly walking around the area, I decided to stick to this cafe. Their menu doesn’t come with pictures but it assumes the customer knows something about Malaysian food. Here’s a couple of dishes that was sampled.

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Chicken Rice Ball.

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Seafood Laksa.

In terms of pricing, the chicken rice ball is $11 and the seafood laksa is $12. The rice ball dish is quite a specialty, and should be the “thing” to try. In fact, there is another unique dish – the Lontong (I’m still not sure what it is but it’s apparently quite nice). I’ve tried the curry chicken + roti canai and bak kut teh with rice, both are  not bad. Everything there seems to be $11 for a single dish (lunch-ish type).

Overall, I can’t really complain but it is just another Malaysian restaurant. I would only recommend going to Melaka Cafe for the chicken rice balls and Lontong because it’s a special thing, otherwise you can really get the Malaysian/Chinese dishes somewhere else and for a much cheaper price.

My rating for this particular place, 7.5/10. They have some unique dishes, unlimited tea and a clean toilet. I do wish their prices was a little bit lower. Good to try once and after lunch, go for a walk in Royal Oak Mall to get a sense of nostalgia of how malls really used to look like!

Mondo – Christchurch Special

It’s been a while and I’m absolutely drained from my trip to Chirstchurch. Yes, yes – you heard me. I am from Christchurch. So it makes me appreciate what I (or we) have in Auckland, in terms of the amazing variety here – good and bad.

I had lunch with a good friend on Sunday at this place called Mondo. It’s located on High Street, near the Atami Bath House. =) I spent $22 on my lunch, that’s about $17 on my potato mash, and about $5 for my Charlie’s Feijoa drink. Boy do they make a killing from innocent consumers like us. Personally, food was OK but not the best. I didn’t feel that fantastic and satisfied after spending on what could be two very good dishes somewhere else.

I don’t have pictures or anything, so it’s hard for me to show. It does look good, but portion is small. Apparently Mondo is a premium deli cafe. Premium my ass, it’s just an overpriced wannabe cafe slash furniture store.

Anyway, I don’t recommend it. There are better places out there.

Scalini’s

During the summer, I often walk on the beach at St Heliers as I attempt to live a healthy life by exercising. Anyway, there is this Italian shop in the corner of St Heliers shophouses, Scalini’s. It always seem packed, I believe for a reason.

Curiosity got to me, and so I tried this place on one night on the weekend. My first impression for Scalini’s, it’s not a bad place. Friendly staff and quite a nice environment. Two “standard” dishes ordered for that particular night as shown below.

Smoked Salmon Pizza.

Fettucine Al Pollo.

The prices were the usual, $21.50 for the fettucine, and $17 for the pizza (small size).  Generally, I found the dishes saltier than other places I’ve been to, maybe it is the way pizzas/pastas are meant to be? It didn’t have that WOW factor for me. It seems quite popular for a takeaway – that’s cause it’s cheaper getting takeaway.

Personally, I’m not going back there, because I think Scalini’s is there to serve the St Heliers suburb. There are better places out there I think. My rating 7/10.

One thing I noticed – there is this burger place in the other corner. It smells good! Maybe a return to the area?

Cova Cafe

This review is sorta an oldie but a goodie. I went to this place ages ago. Cova Cafe is one of those oddly-placed cafes in malls. It’s very near Esprit in 277 Westfield Newmarket. I live around the area and shop there quite often. I’ve had breakfast around the area also – and my general conclusion, there are some mediocre breakfastfood (up in the food court on Level 2), and some which are very good (along Remuera Road).

I’ve always found it hard to justify eating breakfast for more than $10 per person. If you include the coffee, that’s at least $3 extra. But hey, sometimes there are places that’s a must-try.

Ordered the French toast breakfast at Cova Cafe for around $15 (can’t remember exactly) and it sure looked good. Check out the picture.

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French Toast Breakfast.

No ratings cause it’s just one dish. French toast, with warm toasted bananas, maple syrup and bacon – excellent way to start the day? It was packed with people as well. I wonder how Zarbo is like compared to them? Perhaps, I’ll pay them a visit.

Penang Cafe

It has been a while, and I thought it’s about time to post.

I knew about Penang Cafe from my previous job – it was close to the old office. Penang Cafe is located in Otahuhu, not exactly the ideal place to live (and park your car). But they do have some reasonably good food outlets like Vietnam Cafe, a food court etc. So, when you go to Otahuhu, take the lousy car and make sure your third party fire & theft car insurance is up to date. =)

I visited Penang Cafe for lunch as I was in the area. I was actually looking for a bike somewhere along Great South Road. Anyway, two dishes were ordered that particular day, the Wat Tan Hor and honey garlic chicken rice. Pictures below.

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Wat Tan Hor.

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Honey Garlic Chicken Rice.

The Penang Cafe menu is quite easy to figure out. They had two sides, one side is the lunch menu and the other side was the dinner menu. There were some pictures outside for those that might struggle to decide. One thing you’ll immediately notice – almost all the lunch dishes were around $7.50!!! The Wat Tan Hor was $7, and the honey garlic chicken rice was $7.50. They had other dishes like Hainanese chicken rice, curry chicken rice etc. Just for the price alone, it’s shockingly below market price. But don’t get your hopes high, their dishes are generally smaller than other places. It’s not ridiculously small, but it’s still worth it! Perhaps go there and see for yourself.

As usual, I was being a busybody and it seems like the Hainese chicken rice was the most popular. It looked good as well. The Wat Tan Hor was extremely good value for money – delicious and cheap. The honey garlic chicken rice was not bad, but there was hardly any “meat”, in fact it was more like deep fried boned meat pieces. But I couldn’t complain. It’s only $7.50 and it didn’t taste bad. Probably should have picked the Hainanese chicken rice.

Impressed with the lunch menu, I decided to come over to Penang Cafe for dinner! Several dishes were ordered as shown below.

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Braised Duck on Special Sauce.

Pepper Pork Chop.

Minced Pork on Sizzling Tofu.

Hainanese Half Chicken.

There were actually five dishes ordered for dinner, missed out on the picture of the vegetable (which was Kangkong Belacan). Penang Cafe served us “chicken rice” that means the yellow, fragrant rice which was pretty good. I loved the tofu which was $18 and the Hainanese chicken $15. The pork chop and braised duck was not bad, for $20 and $24 respectively. No complains at all.

The environment is not “posh” but clean, and Otahuhu isn’t exactly Remuera. For the price of the dishes and its variety, I think it’s definitely worth a try especially for a lunch outing. Like I said, check your car insurance and maybe bring a steering wheel lock.

My rating, an 8.5/10. Extremely cheap lunch and great variety, however, pity about the location!